Demolition of the remaining building at Penn Plaza is apparently underway, as the city and developer continue mediation over a legal dispute about the controversial East Liberty development.
Photos, including one posted to Reddit, show crews dismantling an apartment building off Penn Avenue that was once home to low-income Pittsburghers. Developer LG Realty Advisors wants to replace Penn Plaza with a mixed-use site, a plan that has run into opposition from the Pittsburgh Planning Commission and activists for affordable housing.
The city sued Pennley Park South in February, claiming the LG Realty subsidiary breached a memorandum of understanding Pittsburgh officials negotiated to provide financial and relocation assistance to the tenants. The developer in turn sued the city after Whole Foods pulled out of the development. Allegheny County Judge Joseph James ordered attorney William Pietragallo to mediate the dispute in May.
A city spokesperson said he could not comment on the demolition or status of the mediation efforts because of a gag order put in place by James. An email to an attorney representing LG Realty, as well as one to the attorney handling the mediation, were not returned.
The Penn Plaza Support and Action Coalition, as well as former residents, plan to protest at noon Thursday at the East Liberty site. “LG Realty has inflicted the violence of forced displacement on hundreds of residents who had lived in the community for decades,” the group said in a press release. “Despite public outcry, on June 21st they started demolishing the remaining building and have chosen to ignore hundreds of requests to accept the city’s offer to buy the building so it can remain affordable housing. We are still demanding they sell the property to the city and that it become tenant-owned affordable housing.”
Mayor Bill Peduto’s Chief of Staff Kevin Acklin previously told The Incline the city attempted to buy Penn Plaza, “but the developer has not expressed any interest in selling.”